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Georgia, Russia and WTO

By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 6
The issue of Russia's proposed joining of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has entered a decisive stage. It has to be decided finally whether Moscow could enter in the organization or not. The only obstacle to this decision is the position of Georgia which is firmly against the idea and has laid down certain conditions which must be met before joining.

Some time ago Moscow claimed that it would enter the organization without Georgia’s consent but this option has so far not prevailed. The west, in particular USA, is very much hopeful that Russia would join this international body. As a result we should expect certain pressure on Georgia to alter its position and allow Russia to join

In this controversial situation Tbilisi demands one major condition: to control the movement of the goods at the border checkpoints on the internationally recognized border crossings of Georgia and Russia. In particular this refers to Psou (Abkhazia) checkpoint and Roki (Tskhinvali region) checkpoint which are under the control of Russia's puppet regimes recognized by it as independent states. These are places which Georgia wants to officially, if not control, at least monitor.

Russia, as always, ignores Georgia’s claims and in March this year the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov boasted that Russia would join the organization without Georgia’s consent whereas Georgia's President Saakashvili responded that his country would not change its principle stand. Since March 2011 the two sides have been discussing the issue in Switzerland, with both sides accusing each other in politicizing the issue. Just a couple of days ago US vice president Joe Biden and Mikheil Saakashvili discussed the issue while meeting in Italy. Biden stated that his country supports the idea of Russia joining the organization however it would not interfere in negotiations between Moscow and Tbilisi.

Georgian analysts think that despite Tbilisi’s principled position it has to give some concessions. Georgian analysts suggest that Georgia should agree to some conditions such as the lifting of the Russian embargo on Georgian goods thereby paving the way for better economic relations. If the Georgian administration finally agrees to certain conditions then Russia would become a member of the WTO and would therefore be obliged to comply with many other commitments as well.

There is another issue as well. Georgia is of course connected very closely to the Russian accession to WTO. If Georgia agrees to allow Moscow to enter the organization, in order for the latter to fulfill the obligations of being a member, any new awkward issues will arise. In particular this could become yet another reason for the opposition to criticise the ruling administration